If you want a very long story and a eventual review, read on. If you want just a review, then go all the way to the end. Don't like either, skip this thread. Yes, I'm bored today...and I do type well over 100 words a minute, so what the heck. You have been warned.
Like many other farkle add-ons, luggage has been a expensive journey for me while trying to find an optimal solution for my riding needs. Both commuting to work nearly daily on the motorcycle as well as using the bike to ride around the country has required a workable storage solution for multiple types of needs. Soft bags were disregarded, as they were too flexible for my requirements; and the cheap ammo-can modification was a look that I was trying to avoid. Hard bags it would be, but something with a unique style that also appealed to my vanity side (yeah, and I ride what some others call a "butt ugly Vstrom" that I actually think looks good).
I bought a set of the Givi Trekker 33L side cases three months ago and then topped it with a 52L Trekker top case, giving me a total of 118 liters of storage space. These cases went with me on a trip across the country and back and were excellent bags. Everything inside stayed dry, and the easiness of pulling the bags off the bike and taking them into a motel room was second to none.
The Trekker side cases did everything I needed them to do, except for one major thing. Even with their partially opening top-case design, the side cases prevented me from easily dropping a jacket into them or fetching one out when I was in the parking lot at work, store, or in driveway at home...the opening is just too small for that. I had to open them like a suitcase, balance the lid against my knee, try to prevent other items from coming out of the case, and try to stuff my daily worn jacket into it. Every time I needed into the side case, I did the juggling act all over again. It was enough aggravation that I decided it was time to find true top loading side cases. I know others have mastered the side case entry...but I did not.
The search commenced. I asked questions to forum owners of other brands of hard cases. I made arrangements to look at cases both at retailers as well as at other riders' driveways and garages. I was the guy eyeballing your ride when you parked it at the grocery store. I watched YouTube videos and read magazine and rider reviews online. Dick Tracy would have been proud.
Every hard case has positives and negatives...I found that there is no perfect case. The trick is in finding the right case that would address all my major requirements, and allow me to live with the negative minor issues I would discover. Finding the "perfect" bag for me was a challenge. A number of different brands of cases were looked at, and nearly each one was taken away from in-depth consideration.
Tusk - These are "the" true budget cases. For months they were not available due to production and supply issues, but once they hit the market again, people have been snagging them up. $240 for a set of metal panniers with true top loading functionality is unheard of, and a lot of people have been getting these. They didn't meet my needs due to the fact that they extend so low, look like ammo boxes, and look to be less aerodynamic than other offerings. This would have required drilling the mount locations into the bag, and finding a custom mounting solution to work with my Vstrom as the only current rack system they make is for the KLR. While others have gleefully done this, it was not something I really looked forward to doing in my garage. I can measure six times, drill once...and still end up with a total of three purchases. Not having that. But if I just needed basic top loaders, you could get at least three of these sets for cheaper than most of the other top-loader options available on the market. Some reviews are coming back as these are really flimsy and easily damaged; some people say they have held up well in a get off situation. When money is tight, these would be a great option if you plan to provide a little care to them out on the trail.
Happy Trails - These look a little like the Tusk brand, with tie-off loops on top of the cases and with the overall ammo can look of being rectangular in design. However, they are better quality bags made with thicker aluminum, better welding, and are big with the off-road riders due to their durability. However, there are way too many reports online about their sporadic shitty customer service, and the fact they repeatedly lie to customers when asked where previously purchased items are...for months sometimes. I do have to say some customers report good service...but there are too many negative reviews for me to consider giving them business. This is one thing I could not overlook, so nothing they make interests me at all.
Micatech - These are side-opening, but have an area at the bottom where items are kept from falling out. Not my cup of tea, still want a true top loading case.
Pelican - Famous for their suitcases, they do make models 1430 and 1440 that are top loading. However, they look like one of those plastic portable file cases you can get at Kmart or Staples. My vanity won't allow me to buy these, no matter how much of an ugly bike I have or how good of a deal they are. Sorry, just my opinion...I know a lot of people like theirs.
Caribou - Kind of like the Pelican design, except these have optional side curtains to hold items in on their offered side cases. Just too much green getting these to the configuration I need them; getting into true top loader territory. Their top loader designs also have the same problems at the Pelicans.
Hepco Becker - Their Gobi cases looked interesting, as they are designed with an internal shell that holds quite a bit of emergency water. Designed for desert travel though and adds unnecessary weight for me when I can stop at a 7-11 and get a Slurpee down the street. While bad-ass to one up your friends' cases, not what I need.
Touratech - $1600+ and the manufacturer did not have any for sale that fit my bike the last time I looked at their site. While these may be the choice for the no-money-held-back world traveler, it's way out of my price league. Comparing the aluminum, it is actually the same in thickness as other well-known recommended brands, but with the "Ferrari" price tag. For my bike, it also required a turn signal relocate...but only after selling one of your kidneys to buy them. Um, next please.
Trax - These have a more angled cut to the boxes like the next two brands reviewed, and the most attractive of designs to my eye. Reviews of the Trax boxes vary and seem to be, in this design, one of the lower quality cases. However, quite a few people like them, and they do look much better than the ammo can design.
Jesse - The are the "de facto" perfect bags. High quality, reasonably priced for what you get if they have it for your year/model of motorcycle, and also made with thicker aluminum. The fact that used Jesse cases are impossible to find only show how much their owners like them. In two months of looking on auction sites and riding forums, I found a total of one set of these bags used and for sale. They were quickly purchased by somebody else. Jesse is an American-based company out of Arizona. I came really close to just buying a set of new ones from Jesse, when the next brand came into play.
Givi - They make a more aerodynamic, well designed model of side cases known as the Trekker Outback 37 liter cases, which look more like a traditional pannier versus a suitcase like the original Trekker I am moving away from. Thicker aluminum and not using the ABS plastic in components like the original Trekker, these bags also get great reviews from their owners. The issue is that the Outback bags were developed to work with either newer motorcycle models, or very popular older models, and not the first generation Vstrom like I have (2007 DL650). Frustrated about this, I set about to see if there was a way to modify these bags to my current Givi rack...but each series of Givi cases require a different mounting system, and my current rack could not be modified to properly and securely work with the Outback cases. And they didn't make a rack that fit my 2007 according to several large accessory retailers I contacted.
So, what did I end up with? The Givi Trekker Outback cases (as evidenced already in the thread title..what, you expected suspense?)
After a number of contacts to Givi directly in Italy, getting them to understand what I needed and getting past the language barrier (I can say manicotti and vino in Italian, they were good at hello and yes), I found out that they in fact do make a rack system that works with the 2007 DL650...but that is not generally available for sale in the United States. Model PL532CAM was what I needed, but not easily found.
Not to be denied, I scoured the Net and made phone calls until I landed at a company called Tour & Ride. They are onsite at Givi's USA distribution warehouse, and the best way to get hard-to-find Givi products in the states. They had three of the racks in stock for immediate shipping. They even gave me a 10% off code for anything they sell. So, I ordered the racks, even before figuring out where to buy the Outback cases. And in two days, the racks were in my garage. I cannot recommend Tour & Ride enough; great people, great service, very fast shipping and delivery. Their pricing on the Outback cases was higher than other places though (even with 10% off), so another retailer would be winning my more expensive purchase.
My research for the best price of the Givi Trekker Outback cases led me to a company in Italy called Motostorm. I've seen their online pricing in other searches in the past, and their prices usually blow away prices in America. Their price on the Outbacks were $300 less than what I could get at Revzilla, which you already know is a great company in America with amazing customer service and awesome prices on accessories and gear. So, I called Revzilla, and asked about a price match.
No dice: Motostorm is based in Italy and Revzilla only matches pricing for items bought from sellers in the US. Second, they said that even though Motostorm was much cheaper, I'd lose the savings with the import duty charges when I received the shipment. That made me curious.
Next contact was to the USITC (United States International Trade Commission), where I asked a few questions about importing motorcycle parts from Europe. Lo and behold, I found out that Revzilla got it wrong and that that there is no duty or tariff for motorcycle parts or accessories, which is shown under USITC's HTS number 87141000 (searchable index located at Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
). Be aware there is duty for motorcycle clothing and some types of gear brought in from overseas.
Another general search online revealed that people that received a duty bill from FedEx or UPS were very easily able to refute the bill by providing this information. I am no lawyer, so do your own research on this before taking my word for it. I'm prepared to fight any bill that comes in for duty or tariff collection if one were to show up in the future. I also have fought my HOA three times in court and won each time...and I like challenges.
So, I went online and ordered the cases from MotoStorm: Abbigliamento Moto e Accessori
after checking out that they were indeed a valid seller with good ratings. Of course, the online purchase with a Italian company triggered all kinds of fraud alerts with Chase (my bank) who immediately locked my account and called me three times in five minutes (other employees were calling me while I started my first conversation from the first phone call received). Got to give it to Chase for watching out for their customers. A five minute call took care of the problem, and the purchase was approved and account unlocked, which guaranteed making a lunch run for the odor at Taco Smell would also be successful later that day.
To note...if you order from the Motostorm website, click the English flag to get the right language ( at top right), and then a little over to the left, click the $ sign to get prices in US dollars. And then check out their Outlet section...amazing prices! Just so you know, prices in their Outlet fluctuate MAJORLY....I saw swings of $200 on the cases I finally ordered in a span of days. I ordered last Thursday (24th), and they arrived yesterday (30th) through FedEx, one day faster than they had predicted.
So...long story told, now to the review of the actual Outback rack and bags which is why you actually read this thread.
Givi PL532CAM rack for 2004-2011 DL650 Vstrom
Obviously they make many different racks for different motorcycles as well. If looking for any rack and having problems finding it for your bike, try Tour & Ride. Install was very easy as everything lined up perfectly...took me 90 minutes, but I had to take the old PLR532 rack off first, and Steve Wilkos was on the garage TV and I got caught up in watching those whose lives are much worse off than mine. Anybody else should take about an hour and two beers. I made sure to use medium-strength ThreadLocker on the bolts as I installed them. Here's a picture of the rack mounted on my Strom on the brake side:
One nice thing about these racks is the "secure connection" indicators which let you know that the case is mounted properly, and should keep it from sliding down the road in the future. Red means cases aren't on or connected properly, green means good to go.
The PL532CAM rack looks pretty sturdy, but there's one area of concern that I have. On my just removed PLR532 rack, the rack bar going to the passenger footrest was actually bolted into the sub-frame behind the passenger peg in two places...a very solid connection preventing any form of movement or vibration of the old rack. On the PL532CAM rack, this same mounting bar is bolted to the actual passenger foot peg bracket at the bottom where it hangs off the bike. With some serious shaking of the mounting bar, there's just the lightest amount of "sway" or give. My old rack also bolted behind the license plate, providing a little more hold. This new rack bar just goes behind the license plate but is not bolted there as an extra point. I'll watch this going forward, but if something isn't solidly affixed, I worry about vibrations.
Givi Trekker Outback 37L Cases
Sold as a set, model number GIVI-OBK37BPACK2. This ensures both cases are keyed the same, and that you receive an additional lock and matching key to put into a top case if you like that also matches the included keys.
The cases are available in a pure gray aluminum color, or black (which you geniuses know black isn't a color...but the absence of color). The black seems to be very high quality, no problems with runs or scratches upon close inspection. However, it does pick up the dust really easy, like a magnet. May not be the right color for any OCD-types that spit polish their bikes every day. All the seams also seem very well done. While thicker than a Tusk pannier, anything is going to get damaged in a get off. Still the quality is there on these. I think these will last for a long amount of time, and can easily move to other bikes in the future.
Width of outside edge to outside edge of the cases measures 41" across the back of the Vstrom from outside edge-to-edge. While not the smallest width available from a hard pannier solution, it is small enough for me since lane splitting isn't legal here. The overall balance is a shade lopsided towards the right though, as they sit out about 2" wider on that side. I see how they could have modified the rack to achieve more of a symmetrical look from the back, not sure why they couldn't figure it out. I didn't notice it when installed, but wife pointed it out to me, and now I really notice it. Maybe I picked up a OCD bug somewhere too.
The CAM mount system is definitely different on the back of the Outback than on the original Trekkers. While the case affixes to the rack at the bottom with the two cutouts that the rack pegs fit into just like the old Monokey styled bags of the original Trekker cases, the Outback series has a different top connection. Original Trekker first pic, Outback in the second:
The top CAM system looks and acts very secure. There are reports that some people couldn't get them off. I had a lot of trouble the first two cycles of on/off, but afterwards it is becoming easier. The trick is to really pull the release bar outwards, and give the bag a good yank back where you are standing. They pop right off every time for me.
The corners of the Outback allows for tie-off points for external baggage or gear. They are riveted on, but do feel very tight and secure. Givi has the perfect bag for these spots with their XS310B bags, a fairly small but highly expensive optional bag requiring its own rain cover to keep their contents dry that can be affixed to the top of the pannier lids. I passed on those bags for now, but these cases look wide enough to make a good dry bag attachment point that gets placed on the back seat during long journeys.
The Outback's locking mechanism is pretty good. Not sure if due to being new, but it's very "sticky" and not very fluid when turning the key. Hoping this gets much easier to use with use. You get a pair of keys with the cases, and another lock and key added to allow your top case to be keyed the same (repeating this info again, did you catch that?)
Inside, the Outback cases provide 37L of storage space each. They do make a larger size at 48 liters, but I figured they would make the complete package on the bike way too wide, and would offset the left/right difference even more noticeable. The outside of the case is somewhat octagonal in shape; the inside matches that.
One other feature I found while doing a test ride that I like: The panniers are located at a great spot to lean back in your seat and to put your clutch-side hand on to it for a different position rest. NICE.
And before anybody asks...not sure how it will work with a pillion. My wife is very short...so there's no way she can ride with these bags on. The passenger pegs are fairly close, may be hard to bend the knee in the required angle with the cases in place. Good thing she now rides her own bike; the cases have no reason to come off unless taking into a motel room on a trip now.
One interesting thing I found out about the Outback cases from talking with Tour & Ride was the fact that there's all kinds of accessories made for these cases that are not available for sale in the United States right now, but are available in Europe. Some interesting things include:
- Givi TAN01 - Jerry can liquid container for fuel, water, etc that mounts to back of case. 2.5L in size; currently not sold in US due to no "gasoline only" stamping and the fact it is black and not red in color. I ordered one anyways to be able to check it out. Really like it, so going to order another one with a bigger future order. These will be great for an Alaska run when it's not a bad idea to carry some spare gas...just in case. One on each case will provide 1.3 gallons of fuel. Or, as a way to carry emergency water when going into the desert, but make sure it never had fuel in it (hence the reason they aren't selling in the US right now)!
- Givi E148 - Jerry can holder for the TAN01. Not due on the market for a couple more days, I'll pick two up either here or overseas. This mounts to the back of the Outback and holds the TAN01 can. Do a Google image search to see what this looks like.
- Givi E146 - Padded carrying straps. Available in the US, but hard to find in stock. I'll order with the next overseas order when getting the other items above. ETA: See post #8 below for a quick review on these.
-Givi T-499B - Inner bags for the Outback cases. Found them in their Outlet store. Got two for less than the price of one in the US, these were brand new in the bag. Cha-Ching! Picture shows them compressed a little, they actual accordion out and fill up every piece of available space, even going up to touch the inside of the lid when it's closed.
Other accessories include inside the lid nets (see post #8 below), soft rubber pads for the top of the lids to mount optional bags onto them without potential scratching, and even some Givi-designed reflective stickers for more visibility to other drivers. I'll probably end up getting these items down the road, except for the stickers.
So, I'm sure everybody wants to know the price on these. Pricing varied by up to $500 across the most well-known retailers, but none could match or even come close to the pricing I got overseas at Motostorm. The pair of black 37L Outback cases was $582.87 (or 435,08 Euros) at Motostorm's Outlet store, versus Revzilla's $882. The cases were sealed in the original boxes, so not sure why they were in their Outlet store.
I also got a pair of the T-499B internal bags from Motostorm for $96.90, which is almost half of the price in the states. Shipping on everything was 29 euros, or a little under $39. Add in the jerry can, and everything including shipping came out to $743.16...still $140 less than just the cases at Revzilla. Sometimes it pays to buy far away, and just cross your fingers that everything works out as well as this order did.
Ease of install - 5 out of 5
Overall quality - 4.5 out of 5
Trekker Outback Cases
Quality - 5 out of 5
Interior - 5 out of 5
Appearance on bike - 4.5 out of 5 (due to slight offset appearance)
CAM system - 5 out of 5 (only because I didn't have problems after the first two cycles)
Attachment tie-offs - 5 out of 5
Locking mechanism - 4 out of 5 (due to key issue that may get better over time)
Available accessories - 5 out of 5
The Outback cases are hereby bestowed a overall rating of 5 out of 5. They will work for my needs for commuting to work, going across country, and maybe someday, a ride from Deadhorse to Usuaia. And...to take this all way around to the beginning of this long posting, I can get my Dainese Teren jacket, complete with a full-sized Klim T5 back protector and all the other armor, easily into and out of the side case. When compressed down, I can actually get all my other gear in the same pannier as well (like pants, gloves, etc)...helmet will go in the top case.
Haven't decided whether to sticker them up yet, but I do plan to put on a couple strips of the black reflective tape for more visibility to others at night, and I will be adding a tool tube behind the left side case for additional storage.
There's not much out there for reviews on these bags unless you speak Italian or Greek and catch one of their videos, so hopefully this novel helped somebody with answers. Need any more info, send me a PM.